There are so many over-hyped supplements and pieces of equipment that I get asked about, many of which cause me to tilt my head like a dog trying to understand what you just said. But oddly enough, I get the exact same reaction from many clients when I recommend what could be one of the most beneficial habits around.
Maybe it's because it still has a sort of "woo-woo" aura surrounding it, thanks to the '70s and the hippie era. Maybe it's because people think I'm trying to convert them to monks so they can join my secret monastery (we meet in the Cedars on the 5th Tuesday of every month, shhh). But whatever the reason, I get a lot of quizzical looks when I suggest meditation.
Why do I offer meditation as a possible solution to some clients? Because stress is so high in this day and age. So high, in fact, that trying to exercise and eat healthy, things that should make us feel better, end up merely adding more stress as we try to fit them into our busy schedules.
So what's the solution? Simple. De-stress. Relax. Simmer down now. How? By allowing yourself a few minutes to simply breathe. That's it. It can be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break or at night before bed. Just close your eyes, try to focus on your breathing and pay attention to your thoughts.
The average person loses their focus about every 7 seconds, so expect your thoughts to drift. Do your best to bring your attention back to your breathing. Or have a fan or some other white noise in the background to maintain your focus. The important part is simply allowing yourself to unplug for a few minutes.
Simple mindful meditation has been shown time and time again to lower the stress hormone cortisol. Lower stress generally means higher health. But it gets better.
You can also use meditation as a form of visualization practice. Want to stick to that new exercise program? Visualize yourself being happy to go to the gym, whenever is best for you, and watch your feelings change. After all, what's that saying... fake it till you make it? Have a big meeting at work? Visualize yourself being prepared and impressing all your coworkers.
The idea here is that your brain can't tell the difference between doing something and just thinking about it, so when the time comes you'll feel like you've already done it. Visualization and meditation are two things Michael Jordan used throughout his NBA career. Cue the Gatorade commercial "I wanna be like Mike."
You can use your meditation time however you see fit. Picture yourself relaxed, happy and recharged. See yourself preparing for and getting that raise. Imagine asking out that attractive significant other and gain the confidence. Or just breathe and smile. The choice is yours, and once you start meditating, so are the benefits.
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and has a budding YouTube channel.